At back of rotation, Hendricks lies in wait
It’s not very common to see a Cy Young Award finalist from the year prior open a season as his club’s number five starter.
Yet, that’s what Joe Maddon has done with Kyle Hendricks, setting his rotation up to his liking for what could be a very testing month of April. And, in typical Hendricks fashion, the right-hander is embracing his role.
His rotation mate, Jake Arrieta, believes this speaks to just how good the Cubs’ starting five are shaping up to be this season. It’s hard to argue with his logic.
"“On paper and what we’ve actually done on the field, it’s tough to not say that,” Arrieta said recently. “People can rank them, but time will tell once we get out there the first four or five times in the rotation. You can put a stamp on it more then than now. We stack up as well as anyone out there.”"
Last year, Hendricks drew comparisons to former Cub and Hall of Fame Greg Maddux for his soft-tossing nature and pinpoint control. Those talents allowed him to win a career-high 16 wins while amassing 190 innings in the regular season.
In the World Series, Maddon gave the ball to Hendricks in the biggest situations: the NLCS clincher at Wrigley Field against the Dodgers and in Game 7 of the World Series in a winner-take-all showdown on the road.
Between those series, he made four starts, allowing a mere two runs in 21 2/3 innings. Really, it’s hard to ask for anything more from a guy who had never even won 10 games prior to 2016.